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How do I maximise calf growth with calf milk powder?

If your objective is to maximise the healthy growth of beef calves or heifer replacements, then calf milk powder is a significant aid.  The right milk powder combined with the right feeding schedule can produce healthy growth rates in excess of 1kg per day over the first 12 weeks of a calf’s life.

 

The optimal feeding schedule to maximise growth was found during a recent trial conducted by Schils.

 

In summary, by feeding 50kg of calf milk replacer (a very similar composition to Premier Performer) during the first 8 weeks rather than the standard 42kg, the following benefits were seen:

 

  • The average daily growth rate was over 220g per day higher

  • The final weight of the calves after 12 weeks was 20kg heavier

  • The calves on the higher volume diet had significantly higher solid feed intake both during the period they were taking calf milk replacer (10kg more) and after (16kg more)

 

These benefits were observed without any impact on digestibility or animal health.

What are the advantages of a higher calf growth rate?

 

The advantages of achieving these higher growth rates in the first weeks of a calf’s life are positive body development resulting in better conditioning scores, higher milk production in the first lactation, lower weight loss during lactation, and shorter calving intervals.

 

The accelerated growth feeding schedule can be seen below:

Age

Accelerated Feed Quantity (Litres/feed)

Number of Feeds

1-4 days

Colostrum

4l in 6 hours

5-7 days

0.75 + 0.75 whole milk

2

week 2

3.0

2

week 3

3.0

2

week 4

3.0

2

week 5

3.0

2

week 6

3.0

2

week 7

2.5

2

week 8

2.5

2

week 9

2.5

1

week 10

2.5

1

For more information benefits can be found on our benefits of calf milk replacer page.

 

Full details can be found in the following link on the Schils study (PDF) on how growth rates over 1kg per day can be achieved.